HEALTH CARE

Health officials confirm three measles cases with links to Marion County

Health officials have confirmed a case of measles in a child in Marion County and two cases in Clackamas County residents who were exposed in Marion County.

The Oregon Health Authority announced  the Clackamas County cases Monday and said both are residents of the same household who are unvaccinated against measles.

The agency confirmed the Marion County case late Monday. It’s not known if that case is connected to the Clackamas County residents, said Melissa Gable, spokeswoman for Marion County Health & Human Services.

She said the local child’s vaccination status is unknown, and the county is still investigating where the child may have been exposed to the disease.

“We are currently investigating, at this point we don’t know if there is a connection. We are also working with the Oregon Health Authority on the situation,” Gable said. 

The Oregon Health Authority said the Clackamas County residents, one adult and one child contracted measles after exposure in late May or early June.

The adult was confirmed positive for measles on June 14 after developing a rash on June 11. The child started showing symptoms a few days later. The window of exposure is believed to be between May 19 and June 4. 

The location in Marion County where the two individuals were exposed to the disease is currently unknown, and according to the health authority it is likely there are other unreported cases in Oregon. 

Measles is a highly contagious communicable disease spread through the air. Symptoms include cough, fever, runny nose, red eyes and eventually a rash. 

The health authority said the Clackamas County residents sought care at two Portland-area medical facilities while contagious with measles. People who were at OHSU Immediate Care, Richmond between 4:40 p.m. and 5:40 p.m. on June 12 or at OHSU Doernbecher Emergency Room between 6 p.m. and 7:15 p.m. on June 14 may have been exposed to the virus. 

The risk of exposure at these two sites is low because the patient was masked and precautions were quickly taken by staff, the health authority said. 

This year, federal health officials reported more than 150 measles cases in dozens of states and the three new cases in Oregon are the first cases in the state this year. According to state data, 91% of kindergarteners in Oregon are currently vaccinated, and the state has a 95% vaccination rate for children up to 12th grade.  

The five-dose measles vaccine series is typically given to children, but adults can get vaccinated for the virus too. Those born before 1957 are considered immune to the disease because of prior exposure and do not need to get vaccinated. 

The health authority said measles poses the highest risk to unvaccinated pregnant people, infants younger than 1 year old, and people with weakened immune systems.

Contact reporter Joe Siess: [email protected] or 503-335-7790.

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Joe Siess is a reporter for Salem Reporter. Joe joined Salem Reporter in 2024 and primarily covers city and county government but loves surprises. Joe previously reported for the Redmond Spokesman, the Bulletin in Bend, Klamath Falls Herald and News and the Malheur Enterprise. He was born in Independence, MO, where the Oregon Trail officially starts, and grew up in the Kansas City area.

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